Bordering on madness

Day 21 - San Salvador

For the sake of completeness El Salvador required a visit. It is, I am told, Central America's most densely populated country, its largest economy and yet is largely ignored by tourists. Hidden charms or a worthy swerve? We would find out. My enjoyment might be tempered by an unpleasant bout of traveler's flu though. The cough was ceaselessly unproductive while my nose streamed. My eyes stung to be open, stung to be closed. I bore it all stoically though and resisted the notion of gender-specific ailment. Our bus from Antigua was going along just fine until a large, solid bang consistent with an impact struck us. I suspect if we had actually run down an unfortunate Guatemalan pedestrian the delay would have been less than the burst tyre that actually transpired. We sweated in the dry heat as a herd of cows lumbered past in the opposite lane and the driver got to work on the wheelnuts with a blowtorch. Judging by the looks and mutterings of the locals this was not a common touristico stop-off. Soon the most cherished of sounds to a traveler, that of a bus engine spluttering life greeted our burning ears and we were back Salvador-bound.
The small matter of a border crossing now lay before us and it provided perhaps the most indelible memory of this particular hop, certainly the craziest crossing of my travels. Disembarking on the Guatemalan side we were swarmed by people helpfully pointing out an office round a nearby corner where we 'needed' to get our exit stamp. My passport was half out of my hand before I realised the lunacy of following these men of ill-intent Having negotiated that chaos we climbed back aboard the bus only to be followed by, in order, a legless guy (drunk), a blind man, several money changers, innumerable food and drink vendors and a legless guy (no legs). They filled the aisle in a jostling conga of chorizo, cambio and charity requests. San Salvador was our first capital city on this trip and exemplified many in this party of the world by being big, noisy, dirty and not a little bit dangerous. Frankly its nothing to write home about.

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